New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson's May Day message to College of Santa Fe staff, students and faculty: “Don't make plans to leave, we'll need you here when the college opens its doors in the fall.”
The governor was joined by Santa Fe Mayor David Coss, City Councilors Rebecca Wurzburger and Patti Bushee, Secretary for Cultural Affairs Stuart Ashman and CSF alum Rep. “Lucky” Varela, D-Santa Fe.
Richardson assured the assembled crowd that the City of Santa Fe will not be alone in its bid to rescue the heavily indebted college (the City Council voted on Wednesday, April 29 to consider issuing a revenue bond for the purchase of CSF), and pledged the aid of up to $11 million in combined state and federal funds.
The governor and other officials reiterated that the most likely scenario would be for Laureate Education, Inc. to lease the college and fund operations at a new school, owned by Laureate, but still called the College of Santa Fe.
Mayor Coss told SFR that he hopes this significant expression of pubic/private partnership will help quell fears that the City is getting in over its head or endangering taxpayer's dollars. “The next step will be to negotiate the debt down with creditor's as much as possible,” Coss says. “The creditors are expecting it—it's called a ‘haircut.'”
CSF President Dr. Stuart Kirk declined to “verify” to SFR that his former vice president, John Allen, is now working for Laureate but did acknowledge that as far as he knows, Allen is now employed by the for-profit education consortium.
There are palpable fears among faculty, staff and students that Allen—widely considered a “hatchet man” after presiding over significant faculty cuts, will be brought in by Laureate to head operations at CSF.
Mayor Coss acknowledged the cathartic need for a clean slate in the administration and board of trustees at the school, and told SFR that he expects “an entirely new governing structure.” However, the mayor cautioned that now is not the time for bickering about cleaning house or placing blame but, rather, the point at which everyone needs to come together and work toward a common solution.
Gov. Richardson reminded the crowd that the deal is not a “slam dunk,” but pledged to bring his full influence to bear in ensuring the College of Santa Fe is open for the fall semester.
There is still no word on when a representative from Laureate Education will be willing to speak to press in New Mexico.